CLEVELAND — As we mark one year since the start of the pandemic, the ability to put food on the table remains a concern for many families. News 5 spoke to the official in the Biden administration who’s in charge of that issue – Secretary of Agriculture Thomas Vilsack.
When you think of the Secretary of Agriculture, you probably think of farmers, but Vilsack is also in charge of SNAP, the federal food stamp program, and he’s hoping the new American Rescue Plan will bring much-needed relief.
This comes as the Greater Cleveland Food Bank held another of its drive-thru distribution events in Downtown Cleveland on Thursday. It's just one of several that took place across the area.
The latest figures show nearly 900,000 adults in Ohio, 12 percent of all adults in the state, report not having enough food to eat. Vilsack said that's something that would be addressed immediately in the president's new plan.
It would allow for an extension of the increase in SNAP benefits, as well as the WIC program for women, infants and children, and additional benefits for kids who would normally get breakfast and lunch at school but are home.
"So, that's an additional expense for those parents at a financially difficult time, so this bill would basically provide assistance and help, additional cash, if you will, to make it a little bit easier for those families to get through this difficult time,” Vilsack said.
Because these are extensions of many existing programs, Vilsack says their impact would be felt immediately, once the plan is passed by the Senate, which could come as early as Friday.